New global LNG leader could emerge this year

The US has led the export growth of liquefied natural gas

The US is on course to become the globe’s largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in 2022, UK-based energy major Shell said in its annual LNG Market Outlook.

LNG exports grew in 2021 despite a number of unexpected outages that dented LNG available for delivery. The US led export growth with a year-on-year increase of 24 million tons and is expected to become the world’s largest LNG exporter in 2022,” Shell said in the report published on Monday.

At the end of 2021, the US ranked only third in global LNG exports, after Australia and Qatar.

According to Shell, America has two countries to thank for its LNG export growth, as China and South Korea both saw LNG demand soar last year. In its push toward switching to cleaner energy sources, Beijing increased its import of LNG by 12 million tons (to 79 million), bypassing Japan and becoming the largest importer of LNG in the world.

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During 2021 Chinese LNG buyers signed long-term contracts for more than 20 million tons a year, signaling an ongoing role for LNG in coal-to-gas switching in powering key sectors and helping to reach its ambition to be carbon neutral by 2060,” the report stated.

LNG is also increasing its role as a backup energy carrier in the event of power outages. For instance, Brazil tripled its imports of LNG last year amid persistent droughts that led to a decrease in electricity generation at hydroelectric power plants.

Overall, Shell paints a bright future for LNG, stating that “global LNG demand is expected to cross 700 million tons a year by 2040” – 90% up from 2021 demand. Asia is expected to emerge as the main consumer as “LNG replaces higher-emissions energy sources, helping to tackle concerns over air quality and to help progress towards carbon emissions targets.”

“As countries develop lower-carbon energy systems and pursue net-zero emissions goals, focusing on cleaner forms of gas and decarbonisation measures will help LNG to remain a reliable and flexible energy source for decades to come,” Wael Sawan, head of Shell’s renewables department, said in the report.

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